As humans, we have a much longer lifespan than our dogs, one of the somewhat depressing facts of dog ownership is that our dogs will not live as long as we do. On many occasions I have wished that my dogs could live forever! Although, knowing how long I can expect my dogs to live, helps prepare me for their needs as a senior, and enables me to give them the best care possible so that we can spend as much time together as possible. There are a few factors that determine the longevity of your dog; including his breed, his size, and his general overall health.
No one has been able to figure out why small dogs seem to live longer than large dogs because in the rest of the animal kingdom, species size seems to correlate with longevity. Whales and elephants are some of the largest and longest living mammals on earth. We cannot, however, say the same thing about dogs.
Small dogs seem to live several years longer than large breed dogs. There is much speculation that it’s because large breed dogs develop age-related diseases and conditions sooner than small breed dogs. Perhaps this is because the larger breed dogs grow from puppies into adulthood at an accelerated rate which may increase abnormal cell growth and then develop cancers and other diseases.
Whatever the reason is behind why some dogs live longer than others, there are some similar characteristics amongst small, medium and large breed dogs that can help to determine the longevity of each group. It seems that the average lifespan for small dogs is 10 to 15 years which makes them a great choice for owners who want a long-lived companion. Although that’s a generality, because statistical evidence makes it difficult to determine an exact age range for any breed of dog.
Medium-size breeds seem to have an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years with some amongst them living even longer. Again, the exact age range for medium-size breeds is hard to determine because there are always exceptions. I know this to be true, because the last two boxers that I had achieved longer than normal lifespans (boxers are only expected to live 10 to 12 years) and I had one who lived to 13 ½.
The average lifespan for the largest breed dogs, including the giant breeds like great Danes and Irish wolfhounds, is 8 to 12 years. In general, the giant breeds are closer to the 8 to 9 year mark.
Importance Of Health Testing
Genetics often plays a role in determining how long a dog will live. Unfortunately, some breeds seem to be predisposed to certain illnesses just like humans. In order to give your dog the best, and longest life possible, you need to be aware of any health issues your dogs breed may be likely to develop. By doing so, you can watch for signs and symptoms.
Causes Of Early Death In Dogs
In a perfect world, our dogs would live out their expected lifespans happily and healthy. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Younger dogs tend to succumb to trauma, congenital diseases and infections. Of course these three things can occur anytime in a dog’s life, but the leading cause of death in large breed dogs across the board is cancer. Some breeds have an exceptionally high rate with less than favorable outcomes. The next cause is trauma – which can take many forms including car accidents and dogfights. There is also congenital and inherited abnormalities which are not always detectable or predictable.
Obesity And Longevity
Recent research has shown that about 34% of adult dogs in the United States are overweight. It is also suggested that obese dogs live two years less than dogs that are at a healthy weight. Obesity also puts stress on the musculoskeletal system which leads to osteoarthritis and disc disease and also increases the risk of developing diabetes and pancreatitis. The same holds true for humans – obesity is associated with cardiac and respiratory conditions in people as well as in dogs. By keeping your dog at a healthy weight, you can reduce his risk of developing weight related diseases and in the process you will improve his quality of life and give him a chance to live out his full life expectancy by your side.
My Final Thoughts
Predicting the lifespan of your dog may be tricky, but it is relatively safe to assume that smaller breed dogs will outlive giant breed dogs even though there are many factors out of your control that affect the longevity of your dog. There are some things you can do to improve the lifespan of your four-legged friend – such as feeding a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight. You should try and familiarize yourself with breed related diseases and symptoms and restrict your dog’s access to toxins and other harmful substances that you may use in and around your home. Make sure to schedule regular veterinary checkups and bloodwork and try and minimize those vaccines and preventatives as much as you can. Hopefully, by following these few guidelines you can have your four-legged friend live his life to the fullest by your side!
I would love to hear your comments, feedback, stories and ideas.
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